The House of Representatives passed a measure on Friday to make Washington, D.C., the country’s 51st state, CBS News reported. The proposal, H.R. 51, passed by a vote of 232 to 180, and all but one congressperson that voted against the measure was Republican.
According to CNBC, the Republican-led Senate is not likely to pass the measure. If enacted, the legislation would create the State of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth, named after American abolitionist Frederick Douglass. The District of Columbia currently has a population of over 700,000 people — approximately 705,749, as of 2019 — which is higher than the populations in both Wyoming and Vermont.
Eleanor Holmes Norton, who serves as a non-voting congressional delegate representing District of Columbia, took to the House floor before the vote to push for the legislation.
“The United States is the only democratic country that denies both voting rights in the national legislature and local autonomy to the residents of the nation’s capital,” she argued.
Residents of Washington, D.C., have long criticized their requirement to pay taxes while receiving no voting representation in Congress, and Norton touched on this frustration during her speech.
“As we approach July 4th, it is long past time to apply the nation’s oldest slogan, ‘no taxation without representation,’ and the principle of consent of the governed to District of Columbia residents.”
President Donald Trump previously opposed the idea of making District of Columbia a state and noted that it would provide Congress with additional Democratic representation.
“Why?” Trump asked of the possibility. “So we can have two more Democratic — Democrat senators and five more congressmen? No thank you. That’ll never happen.”
As noted by CNBC, Washington, D.C., would only add one Representative to the House.
On Thursday, Republican Sen. Tom Cotton pointed to Wyoming and argued that the state, which is 93 percent white, is a more “well-rounded working-class state.” Cotton also criticized the current and former African American mayors of Washington, D.C., and suggested that they could not be trusted to keep the potential state safe.
Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser has clashed with Trump’s militarized approach to the protests in the region and claimed she has battled with the president to keep the District safe. According to Bowser, her clash with Trump was necessary to defend the District’s borders from the military under the president’s orders.
Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters argued that all opposition to designate Washington, D.C., as a state is linked to race. According to Waters, failing to provide the District with representation is an “injustice.”